Electric textbooks becoming popular

Electric textbooks have reduced the amount of money students spend on college textbooks by up to 75 percent, according to Rand Spiwak, the chief operating officer of eText Consult, an organization advocating paperless books.

eTexts not only reduce the cost of textbooks but also allow easier access to its material over hardcover books as a result of being able to access them through smartphones.

Spiwak spoke last Friday at Oswego State’s 10th annual Symposium On Learning And Teaching and informed the attendees of how eTexts are expanding, as well as the benefits they have over hard-back textbooks.

“The cost of an eText book can cost you the amount you spend for two trips to McDonalds,” Spiwak said.

Spiwak went on to add that amount is generally around $8. The average cost for a hardback textbook for college undergraduates is $156 and sometimes exceeds $400. The average cost for manufacturers to make the book is only $4.76.

For a class with a total of 100 students, slightly more than half the students do not buy the required texts, and the rest end up looking for used books or buy the book on Amazon, according to Spiwak. Colleges are starting to realize this fact as Spiwak went on to add a college in Wisconsin “will become an eText school by 2016, all 10,000 of their students.”

Spiwak discussed more benefits of eTexts. He explained what students said they liked most about eTexts, as well as saying what teachers liked most about eTexts.

Spiwak said most students liked how they didn’t have to wait in the lines at the bookstore to buy a book or even go there. Students also said they liked how they could access the book from anywhere. With a program called “Google Chrome offline,” you don’t need Wi-Fi to access the eText. Other things students liked about eTexts is they can have a question and answer session with professors via eText. In addition, students would not have to carry around the heavy hardcover book and have access to its note sharing options.

Spiwak also mentioned how eTexts benefit professors. Some professors said they liked how students can access the eTexts on the first day of class. Professors say that students do not normally order the textbook until after the first day of class, which then makes the students fall behind as they will not receive the book until the second week of classes and in some cases, even the third week. Other examples of how eTexts benefit professors included how it benefits all learners (audio or visual) as well as the features it has to help the students further understand the material.

eTexts are also apparent at Oswego State. Michelle Bishop is an Oswego state librarian who attended the event.

“We have electronic access to some eTexts in the library that some professors are already requiring,” Bishop said. “It’s a good thing. We want to help students save money.”

On the other hand, some students don’t particularly like eTexts. Jared Dweck is an Oswego State sophomore computer engineering major.

“When I read a textbook, I want to read it,” Dweck said. “I don’t want to read it off a screen. I like to flip the pages in front of me.”

Dweck hopes Oswego doesn’t become an eText based university, but fears it may.

People who oppose eTexts also don’t like how they can’t highlight and make notes with an eText like they can with a hardcover book. They understand that eTexts have highlighting features as well as note-taking features but say it is just not the same.

eTexts are still growing and are continuing to expand, according to Spiwak. Spiwak wrapped up the symposium by stating that eTexts are the newest thing for the year 2020. They are here now and need to be acted on, or else Oswego State will be the one behind.